Monday Recommendation, John Scofield, Combo 66 (Verve)
“I Can’t Dance,” guitarist Scofield proclaims by way of his new album’s opening track. It may be the rare listener, however, who won’t be moved by his quartet’s rhythmic blandishments. It is difficult not to boogie around the room—or at least groove in place—as Scofield, pianist and organist Gerald Clayton, bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Bill Stewart expand on nine Scofield compositions that merge down-home verve with the sophistication he has perfected in decades as one of his instrument’s leading players. The number 66 in the album title recognizes the age he reached shortly before he took this powerful, subtle, quartet into the studio early this year. Subtle, yes, because for all of his energy, Scofield remains a guitarist whose harmonic shading is as important to his art as the swing that he and his remarkable rhythm section achieve here from beginning to end.
For the Rifftides review of a Festival performance by Scofield and the group that he proudly called “my rock band,” go here.